Should College Athletes be Paid? Hold It!!!… Maybe There’s A Better Way
With the ongoing increasing conversations pertaining to college student-athletes, of whether they should be paid as professionals, or remain amateurs, I thought it take a moment to sit down and jot down some of my thoughts.
Here in the northwest, there is recent conversation in regards to a couple of our local universities, University of Washington and Washington State University (my alma mater) as to if their respective star players (UW’s Isaiah Thomas and WSU’s Klay Thompson) should return for their senior years of go Pro.
I admit to being a little bit “old school” when it comes to implementing success strategies to keep our young people on track for success. As the author of a just completed book “Standing above the Crowd: “Execute Your Game Plan to Become the Best You Can Be”, that keeps the focus on the tried-and-true traditions of hard work, goal setting, dedication and positive attitude, I feel that those things along with my own personal life experience of being a collegiate student- athlete help me to have a perspective from the many different points of view pertaining to this conversation. Name Image Likeness
My Beginning as a Student Athlete:
Athletes are the prized and celebrated few of our society. From the time that most top-level athletes are in the fourth or fifth grade, they have already been identified as those that have a great opportunity in the world of sports. At that point they become coddled, pampered, and “taken care of” in ways that the average individual can only imagine. Many times athletes who are full of athletic potential don’t have the same scholastic expectations placed upon them from the time they’re in middle school and all the way through college. Is that fair? I guess I’d say it’s fair only if it works out well for the athlete, his family and the university of their choice before heading on to the pros. Unfortunately, that is where we as a society place our values, instead of on the student who gets straight “A’s”. But, many times it doesn’t work out that way for the “hot-shot” athlete, and you only hear about the perhaps 10% of athletes who actually ascend to the top of the pyramid of the hundreds of thousands of scholar athletes throughout this country (middle school through collegiate sports). The vast majority of student-athletes will perhaps play on their high school varsity team, their collegiate athletic teams, and far fewer in the professional ranks. It’s been said it’s easier to become a brain surgeon that it is a professional athlete.
I was a late starter as a student-athlete, so I wasn’t one of the pampered ones that were targeted for athletic success from middle school on. Matter of fact I didn’t play my first organized basketball game until I was a senior in high school. So, I missed out on all the “wining and dining”, “coddling and pampering”, and, “wooing and recruitment” that goes on in trying to get the attention of our young athletes. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t witness to those kinds of things as they went on around me having watched many of my peers go through all of those dynamics. I do remember even back in high school (mid 70’s) in seeing some of the star football, basketball, baseball, track/field athletes being given special treatment as the recruiting wars heated up.
Coming from a family that emphasizes academics over athletics, I had the mindset from the beginning that my first reward from becoming a student-athlete would be my scholarship on to college. I was so excited about receiving my athletic scholarship to Washington State University, because I would be the very first person in my immediate family to be able to attend an institution of higher learning and earn a college degree. I know that my family is probably not “the norm” when it comes to having a student-athlete that is full of potential and can possibly make it onto the pros. Most families “want it” (the athlete to make it to the pros) even more than the athlete him/herself. My family wasn’t like that, and I was really blessed in the fact that they did place academics ahead of athletics.